Information about what this all is, guidelines, FAQs, and the like is elsewhere in this site. As we get underway, perhaps it will be useful to talk a bit about why you may find participating in our weekly prompts a transformative experience.
I’ve been doing a daily song project 5 days a week for 4+ months, as of this writing. In many ways I’m new to regular practice with this. But I go at it so often that I do feel like I have some experience under my belt.
And that experience tells me that regular practice is invaluable. And not just in the “if you do it more often you’ll get better” way. That’s obvious. There are non-obvious benefits.
At the same time, I recognize that doing this daily is a little hard-core. The idea of recording yourself 260 times in the span of a year is daunting; it daunts me, and I volunteered for it. So as we set out to encourage people into regular practice and strengthen the community of improvisational singers, weekly seems like an interval that people will feel empowered to participate in.
The Nitty Gritty
First of all, there’s a process that I think is normal, predictable, and necessary: that of getting out of your own way. For about my first 20 or 30 songs, I felt like I had something to prove—not consciously, and not to anyone but myself, but that was in there. You may recognize it yourself once you are on the other side of it. Things get less high-stakes when the sample size is larger; when the opportunity to express yourself is less rare, it’s just as precious but feels much less like “this is my only chance to get it perfect.”
Hand-in-hand with that is a feeling that I’ve gotten out most of the …I’ll say “types of ideas” …that were in me and most urgent to be expressed. I like to funk, to groove, to lullaby, to swing, and many other things besides, and I do what I do in my own particular way. As do you. After about the first 20 or 30 songs, the danger was no longer in leaving some of the song ideas in me unexpressed; the danger became repeating myself too badly. It’s a good place to be in (though it has its own challenges). There’s less of a tendency to veer away from musical decisions on the basis of the “nah, that aint ‘me'” line of reasoning.
Next up: it becomes your “new normal.” When it is a familiar part of your day or week to sit down with your recording tools and go wherever you go to find ideas, you will probably find yourself much less stressed about the process (as I did) and more able to turn your attention to whatever musical task you’ve set for yourself (or we’ve prompted for you). Less fumbling with buttons. More familiarity with the “thought” process (if that’s what it is) that goes on when you’re making musical decisions. Less fluster. More musical gusto.
I’ll leave it to you to leave Comments on any other non-obvious benefits of regular practice, but one more before I do. Hearing many different recordings of yourself, doing a wide variety of vocal things in a wide variety of settings, is invaluable. You learn what works, you learn what doesn’t. You learn obvious things that you already know but perhaps wish weren’t true. For example, I learned that I sing better standing, and warmed up; I learned that I can’t cheat on the support for the high notes. Duh, right? But it becomes much clearer how important these things are when you hear them. I also learned when my falsetto register works, and how to get there in the best way. (This is all a work in progress, obviously). You’ll become your own vocal coach, and you’ll surprise yourself with what your capabilities actually are. Pleasantly so.
Get Yourself Some Action
Understand: I aint so special. (Except in the sense that everyone is special. Including you.) This is mojo that you can put to work for you. And if that makes it sound like a chore, remember this: you get all these benefits just from singing. That aint work. That’s why you signed up for this gig to begin with!
Believe in yourself enough to dare to suck. Find your comfortable place of power, and explore adjacent places (read my post about that). Do a volume of work and close the gap between your very excellent taste and whatever your present opinion of the stuff you make (like Ira Glass tells you to).
It’s really very simple. Sing, as often as you can. And don’t ever quit striving for what you’re after—because only by quitting can you ever truly fail at it. Get in the game, stay in the game, and together let’s sing the world a better place.